Thursday 27 February 2014

07/52 A Portrait a Week

This is very late; but after completing all of last years 52 project I don't want to fall behind this early in the year...

Week seven was the week before half term. We were unpacking from our wonderful Cornish weekend and planning for our Moroccan adventure... that's my excuse for the fact that both of these photos are iphone pics. But really it often is the camera I have to hand, the one that records the little moments. They aren't the best shots but they capture the memory and for me that's more important. Time is slipping through my fingers at the moment. Coco came home from school yesterday with her first wobbly tooth, I had to be excited rather than crawl into the corner weeping and mourning the fact that she is growing up. Not only that she then went on to spend about an hour on the sofa reading to herself.
I think the big difference for me at the moment is that my children (or Coco more specifically) are moving into a phase that they will remember for ever. They may be hazy, somewhat distorted memories, but in years to come I'm sure Coco will have some sense of what her year 1 classroom was like and she'll remember the excitement of holidays and the simple pleasure of coming home - she was so excited to come back to sleeping in her bed. I love this girl so much for the happiness she gets from the simplest of things.

So - for week 7 we have:

Coco - reading... or checking out the pictures?
Henry - washing up; if only I could trust him to really do the washing up. Oh, and I had to hide the washing up liquid after this.

Taking one portrait of each of my children each week for 2014
Joining in with Jodi at Practising Simplicity.

Monday 24 February 2014

Back to Marrakech...

We've just arrived back from a week away in Morocco. 
There's piles of washing and unpacking to do and a load of photos to download... so in the meantime I'll leave you with a post I intended to publish before we left. A post about the last time I went to Morocco.

The last time I went to Marrakech feels like a lifetime ago.
Before I had children, before I met Hugh.
It feels like I was almost a child myself.

It was a flights only affair, do you remember holidays like that? No idea where you'd be staying, but a bag on your back and a lonely planet guide to read on the plane.
It was an adventure, two nights sleeping in the desert, walks in the mountains... with an added bonus of a 4hr unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere when our bus broke down... kicking around, chatting to people I met. Apart from the hideous food poisoning it was pretty good (I'm really really hoping to avoid that this time around).

When I came back I made a photo album, back in the day when you had send your film off and wait a week or so for your precious prints to come back.

Photo albums of a 1999 trip to Morocco by Alexis at

I actually made two albums... (it's a shame the photos aren't really quite good enough to justify this decision... I was obviously pleased with them at the time).

I used photocopies of various tickets and pages from the lonely planet guide on tracing paper to separate the pages... 

Photo albums of a 1999 trip to Morocco by Alexis at

Photo album of a 1999 trip to Morocco, doorways and oasis, by Alexis at

Photo album of a 1999 trip to Morocco, the hotel and the desert, by Alexis at

I was seriously into photo montages in 1999.

Photo album of a 1999 trip to Morocco, the desert, by Alexis at

Very seriously.

Photo album of a 1999 trip to Morocco, the mountain road, by Alexis at

These two albums have been stashed away in a jiffy bag for almost 15 years, considering how much I love taking photos and compiling them into to albums it's pretty rare for me to actually sit and look at them... but looking back at them now I'm feeling quite excited for this trip....

Friday 14 February 2014

Weekend Therapy

Our weekend away last week was just the tonic I needed. It felt like a punctuation mark, I'm ready to come out of winter hibernation mode, spring is around the corner.

January is a time of mulling over life (resolutions?) for me. I'm not ready to leap into action. Not that I'm ready to leap into action now... but, urm. Think I've lost my point there somewhere. So I'll just share some pictures instead. Here are a lot of pictures from our weekend away.

Blustery cliff walks...

... but bright sunshine too.

And when the sea turned white with foam and the waves crashed high we retreated indoors for a very British bake-off...

Lucy's wet weather cakes were entirely her own invention and were a very popular choice amongst the youngsters!

Henry very keen on taking part in the bake off tasting...

 ... and Coco took filling out her voting slip just as seriously.

Nothing like a walk and a chat... especially when wearing part of your mothers 80's fancy dress leg-warmers.

The curry night was slightly over-catered...

Spot the cheeky girl in the window...  (she's photoshop'd in from another photo! heehee can you tell!?)

... and the boy by the back gate.

And the icing on the cake was meeting this little fellow on the beach!

It's February. It's school holidays again, no school run for a week... and I'm feeling revived by a weekend spent with good friends, new and old.
Friendship and family... the roots of a happy life?

Previous excursions to Cornwall in February have been dutifully logged on this blog before...
In fact reading between the lines of the 2012 trip I think it was a lot harder work than this one... we really are emerging from the baby years....

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The Seaside x 2

Beside the sea in Brighton by Alexis at

The weekend before last I went to Brighton to visit my lovely friend Lou for a much needed non-child day where we walked around, browsed in the shops, dodged the rain and made sure we had time to have lunch plus tea & cake. At the last minute we ran to the sea and I got this photo of the dramatic sky...

Beside the sea in Cornwall by Alexis at

Then last weekend we made the long trek to Cornwall. Heading into the storms full on may have seemed like a mad idea* but it was well worth it. It's a annual pilgrimage for a friends birthday and our numbers have swelled somewhat since children have arrived on the scene... I think I heard a rumour that there were 23 kiddos there. We had some very welcome sunshine, a LOT of wind and a bit of rain.

*Especially when we had planned to travel on the sleeper train which was cancelled due to the track being washed away at Dawlish and then the roof blew off the house we were meant to staying in! We're not superstitious so when alternative accommodation was found we went anyway... we had to go in the car but an unabridged CD of 'The Secret Garden' borrowed from the library kept us entertained.

Monday 10 February 2014

06/52 A Portrait a Week

06/02 A Portrait a week. Henry by Alexis at

06/02 A Portrait a week. Coco by Alexis at

Henry - we found a little stream and Henry found a stick to swish around in it.

Coco - exploring the cove where we stayed this weekend in her nightie and wellies in the bright early morning sunshine.

Taking one portrait of each of my children each week for 2014
Joining in with Jodie at Practising Simplicity.

Friday 7 February 2014

The Same but Different: Our Old Sitting Room

Our old sitting room by alexis at

When I was doing my post about our kitchen the other day I had to riffle through all our old photos from when we were buying our current house and in the process I found this picture of the sitting room in our old flat.

I loved this room. Green really is one of my favourite interiors colours and this room was painted in Breakfast Room Green by Farrow & Ball*. We were quite tempted to use it again in this house but thought we should try something new... so we went for Green Smoke by Farrow & Ball instead (not quite adventours enought to move away from green).

Our old sitting room by alexis at

This was mine and Hugh's first home together so many of the things were bought and collected together specifically for this room... they then got moved and had to just fit into our current house.
I had a little wander around yesterday and took some photos of where things are now... (and simultaneously reminded myself of quite how hard it is to get decent interior photos).

1. The chandelier / 2. Curtains / 3. Mirror / 4. Wall mounted cabinet / 5. 'Agapanthus & Pineapple' painting / 6. Mantlepice paintings and objects / 7. Rug & Sofa / 8. Nursing chair / 9. Ercol nesting tables / 10. Garfield lunch box / 11. A roll of fabric


Flos Chandelier in our kitchen by alexis at

This was the very first big purchase that Hugh and I made when we bought our flat (practical as ever). It's made by the Italian company Flos and was actually designed way back in 1958 by Gino Sarfatti. We decided not to put it in the sitting room in this house, instead it's is our kitchen (and we are still looking for a decent light for the sitting room). Hugh is on a mission to find good looking LED bulbs for it... it is currently a 450w light fitting, kind of crazy. In this case I'm loath to change the bulbs until we find the right ones... eco vs aesthetics. 

The Mirror

Large mirror in our bedroom by Alexis @ something i made

We originally bought this mirror at Alfies Antiques Market. When we moved we tried to put it in our bedroom (and took this one bad photo of it back in 2011) but it didn't quite work. It was the perfect size for our old mantlepiece but it just doesn't work so well in any of our rooms here. I actually took it to a local auction room to see if we could put it in a sale but they only thought they'd get about £100 for it which didn't feel like it was enough. I'm sentimentally attached to it I suppose so it's currently leaning on the wall in our spare bedroom. Looking at that photo I'm wondering if we should put it back in the bedroom afterall?

Wall Mounted Cabinet / Sofa / Rug

Corner of our sitting room by Alexis at

Corner of our sitting room by Alexis at

The little cabinet... this is an annoying one. It's currently just leaning against the wall in our sitting room as it's locked and we've lost the key! I need to try to find someone who can unlock it for us so that we can hang it and put things in it.
The rug and sofa are now both in our new sitting room - along with the cushions that my sister kindly made us from left over curtain fabric and in fact the curtains themselves too. The fabric is Pinks & Roses by William Morris and two sets of the three pairs we originally had are now in our sitting room here. I still need to let them down by about an inch so they fit perfectly. It's one of those jobs that seems to permanently sit at the bottom of my to-do list.

 Mantlepiece paintings and objects

Pictures on our mantlepiece by Alexis at

Two of the pictures from our old mantlepiece are also on our new sitting room mantlepiece. I bought the little woodcut tree picture from my Godfather to give to Hugh for his 30th birthday, and the butterflies by Hugh gave to me for my 30th. They are Postman butterflies made from old letters and  postage stamps by an artist called Tracey Bush.  The other objects from our old mantle are scattered around the house but I think that the Tjord Bontji plate should really be added to our kitchen plate wall.
The other new pictures above are more recent - the main picture is a print from Society 6 by Angela Dalinger and the birds are by Fred Thomaseli.

Agapanthus & Pineapple Painting

Sarah Bowman painting in our kitchen by alexis at

The big 'Agapanthus & Pineapple' painting is by Sarah Bowman (I wrote about it back here) now on our kitchen wall.... it could be in our new sitting room, but I think we get to enjoy it more having it in the kitchen.

Victorian Nursing Chair

Victorian nursing chair in our bath room by Alexis at

The Nursing chair was inherited from my grandmother and is now in our bathroom - when the children are bigger and less in danger of spreading sticky mess everywhere I'm going to get this re-covered.

Ercol nesting tables

Ercol table as bedside table, b&bitalia bed by Alexis at
The Ercol nesting tables are still standing in as bedside tables, I wrote about them ages ago here, including the story of how we came to own them. We really need to find alternative bedside tables so they can go back to the sitting room.

Garfield Lunch Box

The Garfield lunch box bottom left with little Henry here in late 2012. I used this for my packed lunches in primary school and now it's used to store toys... I think it's currently full of old fisher price figures. Coco has used it for packed lunch twice - on her 5th & 6th birthdays - it's kind of known as her birthday lunchbox. I don't think she has any idea who Garfield is.

A Random Roll of Fabric

Finally the fabric pushed under the sofa that was bought for a bargain at a Designers Guild warehouse sale... hmmm a tiny bit was used as the backing to these cushions. Some was used to make fabric bags for Christmas presents; means I must still have this stashed away somewhere.

*When we were choosing the paint colour for this room we were having a tough time deciding between two other greens we liked (maybe 'Cooking Apple Green' & 'Saxon Green'...?) - but arriving at the paint shop late on the Saturday afternoon of a bank holiday weekend we ended up just going with 'Breakfast Room Green' as it was the only one the shop had enough stock of and we were planning on diong the painting on the following two days... goes to show, sometimes it's good to just  allow fate to take it's course...!

Thursday 6 February 2014

Henry at Three

henry at three by Alexis at

This boy - for he is now no longer a baby, or even a toddler - is THREE.

He had a very happy birthday. I felt a bit mean not having a 'party party' but as it happened having lunch at the pub with 11 doting adults was perfect and his very basic last minute presents from us; a pack of balloons with a pump and some wooden biscuits, were also totally fine with him - which is afterall the most important thing.
(Can you tell I'm feeling a bit bad about this?) 

A few things I'd like to remember about Henry at three...

He loves cooking... as soon as I open the fridge I hear the sound of a chair being pushed across the floor so he can stand up and help. He is pretty proficient at chopping and uses an old steak knife to do it, he'll also crack eggs and is very determind about stirring pans on the stove. I'm fully aware of quite how dangerous that sounds.

If I want a bit of peace and quiet (but am willing to put up with the consequences) then allowing Henry to 'wash up' is probably my best option. He'll often ask for coloured water too. That is his favourite. The brio train set is out constantly, the trains are often very very long and Henry finds it very stressful if/when they get derailed.

'Alarmas', repetitive noises are always commented on as being alarmas, and those red strings in public toilets and the lift buttons with the bell on. If he sees one you are sure to be told that that is the 'alarma'. Although now I've corrected him so many times that he probably does actually say alarm 50% of the time.

During his first couple of weeks at nursery almost everyday there would be someone who would say to me "ah, so that's Henry, I've been hearing a lot about Henry" yep, this three year old has a reputation it seems. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not...
He's getting really good at dancing - and occasionally requests music so he can dance and tidy (they are in training)! Him and Coco have special dancing hats (bowler hats from the dressing up) and the post dinner disco is a daily highlight... (or it certainly should be, I must say by 6.30pm my patience for life if often wearing thin).

We've also got to the black is white phase. Example;
Me "Henry don't touch the teapot it's hot"
Henry "No it's not hot, it's cold"
Me "No Henry, it's hot"
Me "I told you"
This happens with everything. I tell him one thing and he will tell me the complete opposite in a very matter of fact way. His language is peppered with 'extremely' and 'actually' especially when he is trying to stand up to Coco's bossy ways. The other day Coco asked him to look after Teddy while she went to the loo and he very gently picked teddy up, stroked her and covered her with his gwaint (security blanket) and said "it's alright Teddy, it's alright".
My heart melted a little.

And of course I'll take any excuse to dig out my baby photos series of Henry.
I'm so happy we decided to do this…  here is Henry from three months (ahhh, feels like yesterday!)

henry portraits from three months to two year by Alexis at

Henry, you make us laugh, you exasperate us with your ways and you're often just too LOUD, but we love you so.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

We Love to Read: Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross

Something we are reading, Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - by Alexis at

We first got this book out from the library when Coco was a bit too young to apprciate it. I ended up buying it for my God daughter who is a couple of years older... and I also thought it would amuse her parents too. Her Mum was a bit of a rebel in her younger days - although I doubt she'll ever share the details with her girls!

Something we are reading, Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - by Alexis at

Fluff has run away from home and has joined the Hell Bunnies... in his letter home he spills the beans on what he has been up to.

Something we are reading, Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - by Alexis at

Something we are reading, Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - by Alexis at

Tony Ross's illustrations are great - he is a prolific illustrator but we only actually own a couple of his books (in fact I was looking at the Horrid Henry books in the library yesterday as they are perfect for Coco to read now... just not sure it won't be very confusing for our Henry).
The tale is definitely one that appeals to the adult reading it... but then I think that is quite good, nothing more boring than reading aloud a book that makes you yawn. It's also got a good moral about keeping things in perspective; a good parental lesson every now and again.
It's one of my our favourites.

The next picture gives away the end... so go no further if you want to get this book be suprised by the ending...

Something we are reading, Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross - by Alexis at

Linking up with Tigerlily Quinn with good children's books.

Monday 3 February 2014

05/52 A Portrait a Week

Coco - adjusting her feather eye-mask - one of only three photos I took of her this week. Sometimes it feels like I hardly see her with school and activities filling up the week.
Henry - he likes to be wrapped up in a towel 'like a baby' after his shower or bath.

Taking one portrait of each of my children each week for 2014
Joining in with Jodie at Practising Simplicity.